The UK government on Tuesday said it is working with Gilead Sciences to supply the company's experimental antiviral remdesivir to select NHS patients with COVID-19. "For the time being, and due to limited supplies, treatment will be prioritised for [adults and adolescents hospitalised with severe COVID-19] who have the greatest likelihood of deriving the most benefit," the government stated.
As part of an early-access programme, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) considered emerging results from the ACTT trial of remdesivir, as well as other studies conducted by Gilead, with the UK agency determining that benefits of the drug outweighed the risks. Early data from the US-led trial showed that moderate-to-severe COVID-19 patients on remdesivir saw their recovery times shortened by about four days compared to placebo, with particular benefit seen in those who required supplemental oxygen.
June Raine, chief executive at the MHRA, said "we are committed to ensuring that patients can have fast access to promising new treatments for COVID-19," and the agency will "continue to work closely with the Department of Health and Social Care and other healthcare partners…by prioritising our essential work on clinical trials, access to medicines, and the development of vaccines."
Similar arrangements for remdesivir have already been made with other countries, including recent authorisations in the US and Japan. Gilead has been supplying the drug to hospitals as part of a pledge to donate 1.5 million doses.
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